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DISCLAIMER: Marijuana laws are a little more lenient now than they were when this blog was originally written… Maybe a little more than a little more lenient, considering there’s a medical marijuana “clinic” on every other block in Vancouver these days. Nonetheless, I decided to leave the blog in its original form out of respect for my past self’s efforts… or because I’m lazy. Enjoy.

“Got some bubba, give me that. I need it for my cataracts.” – Snoop Dogg in “Kush” by Dr. Dre.

While I applaud Mr. Snoop D-O-double-G for his awareness of ocular disease and the potential for using marijuana as treatment, there are some things that we need to straighten out.

Firstly, yes, marijuana can be prescribed for certain medical conditions. BUT! It’s use is very limited and strictly regulated. In the medical field, its uses are mostly limited to patients who are being treated for cancer, severe pain, or terminal illnesses. In cancer patients it is used as an anti-emetic (decrease vomiting) and to increase appetite during chemotherapy.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a text from an old friend… “Are there any diseases of the eye that marijuana can be legally prescribed for?” Yes, old friend, yes there are. But, unfortunately, nothing I can help you with 🙂

The only eye disease that marijuana could be helpful for is glaucoma (not cataracts, Snoop!). Glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve (in the back of the eye) is damaged and can result in loss of peripheral vision (and blindness, in severe cases). It usually only presents in older patients, age 55 and up. High intra-ocular pressure is thought to be one of the main causes of damage to the nerve. This is why we do the “air puff” pressure test at every routine eye exam (See the blog “The Dreaded Air Puff Test”.

Marijuana can reduce the intra-ocular pressure a little. But in order for it to be effective, a patient would need to smoke very frequently, as much as every 3 hours. While some people may consider that cutting back compared to their daily norm, its not exactly what I would call effective dosing. Especially when one little eye drop once a day can be twice as effective as smoking 4 joints a day. I’m just sayin!


Written by Dr. Harbir Sian

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